What is 'Cabin Fever'?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cabin fever is the “extreme irritability and restlessness from living in isolation or a confined indoor area for a prolonged time”. In simple terms, cabin fever is the feeling of unhappiness and impatience due to being indoors for too long. The term 'cabin fever' first appeared in 1918 to describe the craziness of sailors who had been at sea for a long time, 'trapped' in their ships, or early settlers in North America who were trapped for long winters inside their log cabins. Explorers and astronauts are also prone to cabin fever due to living in small spaces, and isolated from civilization for long periods of time.
During cabin fever, a person may experience various symptoms, such as sleepiness or sleeplessness, anger with or distrust of anyone they are with, extreme boredom or an urge to go outside even if the circumstance is unsafe. Although medically it is not a disease and there is no prognosis, the experiencing of the above symptoms can lead to irrational actions by the person. These irrational actions, if not corrected or attended to, could potentially harm the person or the people around him or her.
What Can I Do if I Feel that I'm Having Cabin Fever?
If you do feel some kind of cabin fever, do not despair. There are simple remedies that you can practise to prevent the onslaught of such a condition. The treatment is simple, depending on your personal situation. The simplest solution is to go out and interact with nature (if the circumstance is safe) - get some sun, take a walk in the park or around the neighbourhood (making sure you keep your ‘social distancing’ from any member of the public) or if you are under self-quarantine, go out to the balcony or simply open the windows. Various researches have shown that short interactions with nature can help improve your mood, uplift your spirits and promote your physical, mental and cognitive health. Looking out far in the distance is also good for your eyes, especially after long hours of close work on your computer or in books. Studies have shown that looking at greenery is good, as the colour green is very soothing for your eyes.
Pick an Activity to Chill Out
Many people take the opportunity to bond with their family members, start a new hobby or continue with their existing favourite pastimes. Learn something online, like a new language or a skill; catch up on your reading with books or magazines, or get engaged in Art and Craft. The most important thing is to keep yourself busy with useful things and avoid doing one particular task for long periods of time. Variety is the keyword to alleviate cabin fever or extreme restlessness and boredom. Be grateful that you still have good food to eat, mobile networks to connect with friends and family virtually, and indoor games or electronic devices to entertain yourself. Sailors, astronauts, explorers and miners, even in the present day, may not have those luxuries to ward off cabin fever.
Staying in a confined place for long periods of time with family or housemates around can also be very challenging. This kind of cabin fever can result in tempers flaring - causing arguments and finger-pointing. The best thing for us to do is to keep our cool, be understanding and accommodating. Everybody has a different threshold and willpower. If you can be that stronger person, be that person. But talk it out and discuss so that everybody knows his or her responsibilities to make the situation bearable, if not happy.
This is a challenging time for us, since the situation is so uncertain, and everything is fluid and volatile. But the beauty of humankind is that we often triumph over disasters. History has recorded how we always get up and rebuild our country or community, after every disaster. We should not be cursing the virus or certain countries or people for this unfortunate incident in the history of mankind. Suffice for us to know that there are still so many generous, selfless, altruistic people among us, that animosity between countries has been put to a standstill and that this calamity has given our earth the chance to rejuvenate itself. Humanity and life, after this, will never be the same as before. Let us have an optimistic outlook and do our part towards a better future.
by Hanna Abdelwahab
©Wittenborg University Press